Folk-Tales of the Magyars, The UNDER CONSTRUCTION | Annotated Tale

Lazy Cat, The

A LAD married a lazy rich girl, and he made a vow that he would never beat her. The missis never did any work but went about from house to house gossiping and making all kinds of mischief, but still her husband never beat her. One morning as he was going out to his work he said to the cat, "You cat, I command you to do everything that is needed in the house. While I am away put everything in order, cook the dinner, and do some spinning; if you don't, I'll give you such a thrashing as you won't forget." The cat listened to his speech half asleep, blinking on the hearth. The woman thought to herself, "My husband has gone mad." So she said, "Why do you order the cat to do all these things, which she knows nothing about?" "Whether she does or whether she doesn't it's all the same to me, wife. I have no one else whom I can ask to do anything; and if she does not do all that I have ordered her to do you will see that I will give her such a thrashing as she will never forget." With this he went out to work, and the wife began to talk to the cat and said, "You had better get your work done, or he will beat you;" but the cat did not work, and the wife went from house to house gossiping. When she came home the cat was asleep on the hearth, and the fire had gone out; so she said, "Make the fire up, cat, and get your work done, or you will get a sound thrashing;" but the cat did no work. In the evening the master came home and found that nothing was done and that his orders were not carried out; so he took hold of the cat by its tail and fastened it to his wife's back, and began to beat till his wife cried out, "Don't beat that cat any more! Don't beat that cat any more! it is not her fault, she cannot help it, she does not understand these things." "Will you promise then that you will do it all in her stead?" inquired her husband. "I will do it all and even more than you order," replied his wife, "if you will only leave off beating that cat."

               The woman then ran off home to complain to her mother of all these things, and said, "I have promised that I will do all the work instead of the cat, in order to prevent my husband beating her to death on my back." And then her father spoke up and said, "If you have promised to do it you must do it; if not, the cat will get a thrashing to-morrow." And he sent her back to her husband.

               Next time the master again ordered the cat what she had to do, and she did nothing again. So she got another beating on the wife's back, who ran home again to complain; but her father drove her back, and she ran so fast that her foot did not touch the ground as she went.

               On the third morning again the master commenced to give his commands to the cat, who, however, was too frightened to listen, and did no work that day; but this time the mistress did her work for her. She forgot no one thing she had promised--she lighted the fire, fetched water, cooked the food, swept the house, and put everything in order; for she was frightened lest her husband should beat the poor cat again; for the wretched animal in its agony stuck its claws into her back, and, besides, the end of the two-tailed whip reached further than the cat's back, so that with every stroke she received one as well as the cat. When her husband came home everything was in order, and he kept muttering, "Don't be afraid, cat, I won't thrash you this time;" and his wife laid the cloth joyfully, dished up the food, and they had a good meal in peace.

               After that the cat had no more beatings, and the mistress became such a good housewife that you could not wish for a better.


Kriza, xi.

                This tale does not call for any special remark.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Lazy Cat, The
Tale Author/Editor: Jones, W. Henry & Kropf, Lewis L.
Book Title: Folk-Tales of the Magyars, The UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Book Author/Editor: Jones, W. Henry & Kropf, Lewis L.
Publisher: Elliot Stock
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1889
Country of Origin: Hungary
Classification: ATU 1370: The Lazy Wife is Reformed

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